SAN FRANCISCO $6.5 BILLION BUDGET SIGNED – NEWSOM FORMS PRIVATE-PUBLIC SECTOR COMMITTEE TO SHAPE NEXT YEAR’S BUDGET

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today signed the city’s $6.5 billion 2008-09 budget, approved Tuesday by a 10-1 vote from the Board of Supervisors.

At a ceremony this afternoon in City Hall, Newsom trumpeted the “largest budget in our city’s history” as successfully closing a projected $338 million budget shortfall while significantly investing in city infrastructure, public safety and education, and expanding the city’s universal health care plan.

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

Newsom highlighted $1.5 billion in spending for public health, including $37 million for the Healthy San Francisco universal health care program; $38.7 million in spending for street repaving; more than $1 billion for public safety; and $76.2 million for education.

“Today, I am signing a budget that despite the severe budget crisis, expands universal access to healthcare, strengthens programs for the homeless and protects public safety,” said Mayor Newsom.

“We are doing more with less.”

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Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

Newsom unveiled his balanced budget on June 2 at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, closing a $338 million shortfall. Yesterday it passed the Board with the lone dissenter being Supervisor Chris Daly.

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San Francisco Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

In addition, the Mayor has asked Controller Ben Rosenfield to convene a working group that includes economic and financial professionals, organized labor, the Board of Supervisors, and other key stakeholders to work towards addressing the City’s structural budget issues and bringing long-term balance to the City’s finances.

Healthcare

Newsom’s budget invests $37 million for Healthy San Francisco, San Francisco’s universal healthcare program, an increase from $25 million last year, to ensure that all uninsured San Franciscans have access tohealthcare.

Streets

Newsom’s budget invests $2.3 million more for street repaving over last year, for a total of $38.7 million. This investment, for the second year in a row, meets the city’s repaving needs.

Public Safety

Newsom’s budget improves public safety by investing $3.5 million for three more police academy classes, ensuring that the San Francisco Police Department will reach full mandated staffing levels for the first time inthe City’s history.

Homelessness and Housing

Newsom’s budget continues to fight the battle of chronic homelessness by investing $30.8 million towards development of 410 units of senior affordable housing, $28.6 million to support construction of 668 units of rental housing for families, and $28.6 million to support homeownership programs, including down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Education

To ensure that San Francisco continues to be the highest performing urban school district in the state, Newsom’s budget invests $76.2 million in education. This includes $7.4 million in direct support for the Unified School District and $7.3 million for Wellness Centers, Anti-truancy
programs and new service-learning initiatives. The City will send $22.5 million through Prop H for sports, libraries, arts and music. Finally, the city will send $19.2 million to schools from the City’s rainy day fund.

Community Investment

Newsom’s budget expands jobs for at risk 16-24 year olds by investing $4 million to add at least 800 more jobs in partnerships across the city and with the nonprofit community. In addition, Newsom invests $5 million more for Hope SF to rebuild San Francisco’s worst public housing developments, including $3 million for Hunters View predevelopment work and $2 million
for Housing Authority immediate repairs.

About $19 million has been set aside for schools through the city’s rainy day reserve fund, in order to offset potential state cuts in education funding that have threatened teachers jobs.

“We are going to fully fund those cuts, if indeed, those cuts materialize,” Newsom said.

The public safety investments include $3.5 million for three additional police academy classes, expected to put about 150 new officers on the streets, Newsom said.

“Very significant enhancements” in public transportation include an additional $20 million in San Francisco Municipal Railway funding, Newsom said.

More than $30 million will go toward 410 new units of senior affordable housing, $28 million for 668 new units of rental housing for families, and another $28 million for homeownership programs that include down-payment assistance for first-time home buyers, according to the mayor’s
office.

Newsom said his only concern in the budget was that the city’s $25 million reserve had been trimmed by nearly $5 million, which he said if spent, could potentially harm the city’s credit rating.

And with a projected $250 million budget deficit next year, Newsom promised to be “more aggressive” in cuts early next year, including “dramatically addressing overtime” paid to city workers.

“We’re not out of the woods (in San Francisco),” Newsom said.

“Our economy is through the roof, but there is nothing to suggest that will continue.”

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San Francisco Budget Director Nani Coloretti
Photo by Bill Wilson © 2008

Ari Burack of Bay City News contributed to this report.

See Related: LOCAL POLITICS

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past four years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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